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INDIANAPOLISIt was a goal for Chris Ballard entering the draft.

He wanted to get younger and more disruptive along the defensive line.

Ballard achieved that goal, while waking up the attention of some of the other young defensive linemen already on the roster.

Here’s a capsule look at the Colts picks on defense in 2021:

Round 1, Pick 21: Michigan DE-Kwity Paye (6-2, 261)

2020 Stats: 4 games played (4 starts). Had 16 tackles (12 solo), 4.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks.

Career Stats: 38 games played (20 starts). Had 100 tackles (56 solo), 23.5 tackles for loss, 11. Sacks, 1 pass defensed, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery.

Interesting Fact: Led by his mother, Paye fled war-torn parts of Africa and moved to Rhode Island at the age of just 6 months.

Paye’s Quote to Note: “Blue collar (playing style) I would say, just chasing the ball. Every time I get a chance to tackle I just go out there and do it.”

Chris Ballard’s Thoughts: “First, he has got good tape. That’s number one. To get put on the board in the first round, you have got to have really good tape. Then you’ve got to go through the rest of the process. What his backstory tells you is this kid – he’s got some survival skills and when it gets hard in this league, he’s going to be able to handle it. This is a hard league. It’s hard and you’re going to fail. Players are going to fail, you’re going to have some bad moments and you have got to have something inside of you that allows you to push through it. I think it’s one of the really good things that our scouts are able to do is to find those type of players. From Quenton (Nelson) to Braden (Smith) to Darius (Leonard), you can go down the list of guys who have had their – they might not have had the first start to their careers great but they just kept battling and they have a confidence level that they are going to be good players in this league. I think Kwity has that.”

Outlook: With a trade back on the table, the Colts viewed Paye as too good to pass up. Ballard had Paye grouped together with some other edge rushers, but what separated him was his combination of strength and explosion, which makes him a 3-down guy, and then rare character that the Colts view as critical to help him reach more of his ceiling. Paye is by no means a finished pass rushing prospect. The Colts must develop that aspect to his game. With no guarantees in Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu, the Colts had to make another substantial move at edge rusher. Paye should be a 3-down presence from his first days in the NFL.

Round 2, Pick 54: Vanderbilt Defensive Lineman Dayo Odeyingbo (6-5, 285)

2020 Stats: 8 games played (8 starts) 32 tackles (15 solo), 8.0 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks.

Career Stats: 44 games played (29 starts). 125 tackles (62 solo), 31.0 tackles for loss, 12.0 sacks, 3 passes defensed, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries.

Interesting Fact: Ran hurdles in high school.

Odeyingbo’s Quote to Note: “In college, I got asked to do everything. I rushed from a 9-technique to a 0-technique and everything in between. I did it pretty consistently at each position. So I think each of them have their own perks and their own differences and I enjoy them all in their own way. I really just like being on the field, like being able to be disruptive and get after quarterbacks, get after the ball carrier.”

Ballard’s Quote to Note: “Really excited to get Dayo. First, let me address the injury. He had a torn Achilles in late January and we thought it was worth the risk. This kid is a unique, unique talent. We would have considered him in the first round if he hadn’t got injured and I think a lot of teams would have. To be honest with you, I was kind of sweating it out at where we were picking if we were going to be able to get him because we had kind of targeted him. I’m pretty sure he would have gone pretty quickly after us. There were some teams that I know really liked him. But I think you know defensively, we’re going to be front driven and we want to be able to play eight, nine guys if we can in a rotation. With the added 17th game I think it’s going to be really important that we have a strong rotation. There’s no timeline on when he’s going to be ready. We’ll let the young man get healthy and when he’s ready to go he’ll go. But he is a unique, unique talent. (Scouts) Morocco Brown did a lot of work on him, as did Chad Henry. But Morocco gave him a really good nickname and called him the human hurricane. He’s all of 6-5 and 280 pounds with really long arms and really big upside as a rusher. He’s as disruptive of a defensive player as we saw on tape this past fall. But excited to get him. I think we’ve made our front better on defense. With the losses of (Denico) Autry and (Justin) Houston we knew we had some work to do and we’ve still got players there that we like. Look, when you want to have great competition to play you’ve got to have talent. I think we’ve added talent and I think it’s going to up the intensity and tempo of the group. They all play hard anyways, but now it’s going to be competition for snaps and that’s a good thing.”

Outlook: Called the ‘human hurricane’ during the Colts’ scouting process, Dayo Odeyingbo’s potential was too good to pass up for the Colts. Ballard said the Colts thought Odeyingbo would have garnered a 1st round grade had he not tore his Achilles in January. That injury though really clouds the 2021 outlook for Odeyingbo. When he does get healthy, the Colts have an extremely long and versatile defensive lineman. With questions regarding previous defensive line picks, Ballard clearly felt the need to put some serious attention towards this position group. Odeyingbo could offer an early-down presence out at defensive end and then slide inside (for Grover Stewart) on passing downs. From a player comparison standpoint, the Colts see a little bit of former Giants’ defensive lineman Justin Tuck in Odeyingbo.


Round 5, Pick 165: Florida Safety Shawn Davis (5-10, 202)

-2020 Stats: 7 games played (6 starts). 40 tackles, 2.0 for loss, 3 passes defensed, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble.

-Career Stats: 37 career games (16 starts), 124 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 15 passes defensed, 5 interceptions, 1 forced fumble.

-Interesting Fact: The Colts have another safety on their roster with the same name, although spelled ‘Sean’ Davis.

-Davis’ Quote to Note: “At the position that I play, you have to be very physical because you are the last line of defense. If you’re not physical then it’s all touchdowns coming from the backend on your part, so I made being physical a part of my game and one of my physical strengths.”

-Ballard’s Quote to Note: “We take some depth at safety with Shawn Davis who plays the way we want to play. He is aggressive, he is tough, he has good ball skills.”

Outlook: Safety wasn’t some major need for the Colts in 2021. But a Day 3 pick makes sense. Davis was a core special teamer at Florida and call himself a versatile safety. Florida coaches labeled him the ‘quarterback’ of the secondary. The Colts liked Davis’ willingness as a tackler and his ability to find the ball a good amount for a safety. With the Colts, it’s unlikely Davis will see much time defensively early on, unless Matt Eberflus wants to use a dime personnel grouping, something that didn’t happen last season. Toss Davis into the safety depth group with Sean Davis (free agent signing) and George Odum.

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